Household Debt Continues to Drop

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, in its latest Household Debt and Credit Report, reported on Wednesday that outstanding U.S. household debt declined by $78 billion from the previous quarter, due in large part to a decline in housing-related debt. In 2Q13 total household indebtedness fell to $11.15 trillion, a drop of 0.7 percent compared with the previous quarter, and 12 percent below the peak of $12.68 trillion in 3Q08. One way or another, Americans are still deleveraging.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, in its latest Household Debt and Credit Report, reported on Wednesday that outstanding U.S. household debt declined by $78 billion from the previous quarter, due in large part to a decline in housing-related debt. In 2Q13 total household indebtedness fell to $11.15 trillion, a drop of 0.7 percent compared with the previous quarter, and 12 percent below the peak of $12.68 trillion in 3Q08. One way or another, Americans are still deleveraging.

Mortgages, the largest component of household debt, continue to fall. Mortgage balances were $7.84 trillion at the end of the second quarter, down $91 billion in 1Q13. Balances on home equity lines of credit dropped by $12 billion (down 2.2 percent) and now stand at $540 billion. On the other hand, total auto loan balances increased $20 billion from the previous quarter, the ninth quarterly increase in a row, and the largest quarter-over quarter-increase since 2006.

The New York Fed also reported an improvement in the rate of bankruptcy. About 380,000 consumers had a bankruptcy notation added to their credit reports in during quarter of 2013, a 4.8 percent drop from the same quarter last year, and the tenth consecutive quarter with a drop in bankruptcies on a year-over-year basis.

“Although overall debt declined in the second quarter, households did increase non-housing debt, led by rising auto loan balances,” Andrew Haughwout, vice president and research economist at the New York Fed, in a statement. “[Also], households improved their overall delinquency rates for the seventh straight quarter, an encouraging sign going forward.”

Wholesale inflation nil in July

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Wednesday that the Producer Price Index for finished goods was unchanged in July. That compared with increases of 0.8 percent in June and 0.5 percent in May. At the earlier stages of processing, prices received by manufacturers of intermediate goods also were unchanged in July, but the crude goods index rose 1.2 percent.
The index for finished goods less foods and energy—the so-called core index of wholesale inflation—edged up 0.1 percent in July, the ninth consecutive month increase, the BLS said. The July advance was led by prices for pharmaceutics, which rose 1 percent. Price increases for light motor trucks and communication-related equipment also contributed to higher finished core prices.

Wholesale prices for finished energy goods moved down 0.2 percent in July after climbing 2.9 percent last month. The decline was mostly because of a 3.9 percent drop in the price of residential natural gas. Lower prices for gasoline and finished lubricants also were factors in the decline.

On Wednesday, Wall Street experienced its sharpest down day since early in the summer, with observers positing that investors are worried about the timing of the end of QE3. In any case, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was off 113.35 points, or 0.73 percent. The S&P 500 lost 0.52 percent and the Nasdaq declined 0.41 percent.